BEST BETS | June 6 – 12, 2019


WELCOME TO OUR weekly curated column. Feature photo: The Atlanta Streets Alive event in April attracted over 120,000 attendees. Experience the next open streets event on June 9. Photo by Wild Grain Photography for Atlanta Streets Alive.

This weekend only

Beethoven’s Fidelio. June 6 & 8. Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Enjoy the famous composer’s only opera with the ASO and conductor Robert Spano for two nights only. The first performance of Fidelio took place at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna in 1805 and was conducted by Beethoven himself. The opera is based on a libretto by the French lawyer and writer Jean-Nicolas Bouilly, and tells the story of a woman willing to risk all to rescue her husband from political oppression. Tickets and info on the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra website. 


ASO 18/19 Season Sees More Bernstein, Beethoven, Biss


THE ATLANTA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA’S  2018/19 season features more Bernstein and Beethoven, one world premiere, five ASO premieres and a roster of guest conductors old and new that includes Roberto Abbado, Edward Gardner and Peter Oundjian. It also celebrates French, Russian and Spanish music.

ASO logo

The season, the orchestra’s 74th, begins Sept. 20 with Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky and ends June 8, 2019, with Beethoven’s Fidelio. It includes the 24-week classical series, holiday concerts, family concerts, movies in concert and Atlanta Symphony Hall LIVE. Music director Robert Spano and principal guest conductor Donald Runnicles will lead the ASO for an 18th season.

Perk-laden subscriptions, beginning at $75 for three concerts, are on sale now. Details HERE or at 404.733.4800.

The symphony will mark the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I with several pieces, including Shostakovitch’s Leningrad Symphony; Bernstein’s Halil; Elgar’s Cello Concerto; and Britten’s War Requiem, which includes poetry from Wilfred Own, a writer of the era. 

All concerts are at Symphony Hall in the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown, unless otherwise noted. The season, in chronological order, lines up like this:



Lang Lang

Lang Lang


Robert Spano conducts Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, with Kirill Gerstein, a Jewish-American and Russian pianist, as guest soloist.

LANG LANG. Sept. 26.

The Chinese pianist joins guest conductor Mei-Ann Chen and the ASO for a program featuring Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Symphony No. 40 and Piano Concerto No. 24. 


The ASO’s Stephen Mulligan conducts Jongen’s Symphonie Concertanteand Guilmat’s Symphony No. 1 with guest organist Jens Korndörfer.



Jun Märkl

Jun Märkl

VIVE LA FRANCE. Oct. 11 + 13. 

The ASO is joined by guest conductor Jun Märkl and violinist Giora Schmidt for Berlioz’s Benvenuto Cellini Overture, Vieuxtemps’ Violin Concerto No. 5 and Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé (complete ballet).


Runnicles, the ASO and the ASO Chorus are joined by soprano Evelina Dobračeva, tenor Thomas Cooley, baritone Russell Braun and the Gwinnett Young Singers.



Roberto Abbado

Roberto Abbado

BRAHMS  + BEETHOVEN. Nov. 8 + 10.

Guest conductor Robert Abbado and violinist Veronika Eberle join the ASO for Rossini’s String Sonata No. 1, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 and Brahms’ Violin Concerto.


Conductor TBA. 1:30 + 3:30 p.m.


Edward Gardner and pianist Simon Trpčeski join the ASO for Rachmaninov’s Isle of the Dead, Piano Concerto No. 4 and Symphonic Dances.



Christmas With the ASO

Christmas With the ASO

CHRISTMAS WITH THE ASO.  Dec. 8-9 (four concerts).

Norman Mackenzie leads the ASO, the ASO Chorus, the Morehouse College Glee Club and the Gwinnett Young Singers in this holiday tradition.

ASO HOLIDAY CONCERT (North Avenue Presbyterian Church). Dec. 13.

Stephen Mulligan conducts the orchestra.

MESSIAH. Dec. 13. Mackenzie conducts the ASO and ASO Chamber Chorus.

A FESTIVE FAMILY HOLIDAY. Dec. 16. Mulligan conducts the ASO. 1:30 + 3:30 p.m.

A VERY MERRY HOLIDAY. Dec. 20-21. Mulligan again conducts the ASO.





Guest conductor Christopher Allen leads the ASO in Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side StoryPrelude, Fugue and Riffs; and Songs and Dances. ASO clarinetist Laura Ardan is featured, along with mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and baritone Joseph Lattanzi. 


Cellist Johannes Moser joins Spano and the ASO for Leonard Bernstein’s Three Meditations from Mass and Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, Leningrad.


This program features Piano Sonata No. 6 in F Major, Opus 10, No. 2; Piano Sonata No. 20 in G Major, Opus 49, No. 2; Piano Sonata No. 18 in E-flat Major, Opus 31, No. 3, The Hunt; and Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat Major, Opus 106, Hammerklavier.     


Spano conducts Alex Turley’s City of Ghosts (an ASO premiere), Jennifer Higdon’s Viola Concerto (also an ASO premiere) and Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique. The ASO is joined by Roberto Diaz on viola.



Stephen Mulligan

Stephen Mulligan

RACH 3. Feb. 14 + 16. 

Powerhouse pianist Nikolai Luganski joins the ASO and maestro Mulligan for Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3. Also planned: Sibelius’ Symphony No. 1. 


Spano conducts a program featuring Mozart’s Symphony No. 41, Jupiter, and Verdi’s Four Sacred Pieces.




The music is Ravel’s Mother Goose (the complete ballet) and Paulus/Robert Elhai’s Jump. Choreographer Lauri Stallings and the moving artists of glo join Spano and the ASO.



This program features Piano Sonata No. 25 in G Major, Opus 79; Piano Sonata No. 11 in B-flat Major, Opus 22; Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Opus 27, No. 2, Moonlight; Piano Sonata No. 24 in F-sharp Major, Opus 78; and Piano Sonata No. 30 in E Major, Opus 109. 

VIVA ESPANA! March 7 + 9.

Hear Ravel’s Alborada del gracioso, Lalo’s Symphonie espagnole and Falla’s The Three-Cornered Hat (the complete ballet). ASO concertmaster David Coucheron is the violin soloist. No conductor has been announced.


Mulligan conducts the ASO. 1:30 + 3:30 p.m.

STRAUSS AND BRAHMS. March 21 + 23.

Popular guest conductor Peter Oundjian is on the podium for Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 (with guest artist Benjamin Grosvenor) and Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra.


Spano conducts Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Triple Concerto, and Schumann’s Symphony No. 1, Spring, with guests Daniel Hope on violin, David Finckel on cello (making his ASO debut) and Wu Han on piano.



Michael Gandolfi

Michael Gandolfi

CONCERTO NIGHT. April 4 + 6.

Spano conducts Michael Gandolfi’s Imaginary Numbers, Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra with guest artist Jeremy Denk on piano and ASO soloists Elizabeth Koch Tiscione on oboe, Laura Ardan on clarinet, Andrew Brady on bassoon and Brice Andrus on French horn.

BEETHOVEN + BERNSTEIN: PART 1. April 11 + 13-14. 

Guest conductor Thomas Søndergård leads the ASO and ASO Chorus in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, with soprano Jessica Rivera, mezzo-soprano Stephanie Lauricella, tenor Thomas Cooley, countertenor Daniel Moody (in his ASO debut) and bass Andrea Mastroni (also in his ASO debut) as guest artists.


Piano Sonata No. 19 in G minor, Opus 49, No. 1; Piano Sonata No. 16 in G Major, Opus 31, No. 1; Piano Sonata No. 7 in D Major, Opus 10, No. 3; Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Opus 90; and Piano Sonata No. 28 in A Major, Opus 101. 

ELGAR CELLO CONCERTO AT 100. April 25 + 27.

Guest conductor Carlos Kalmar and cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason join the ASO for the Elgar. Also planned: Sullivan’s  Overture di Ballo and Schumann’s Symphony No. 2.



MADE IN PARIS! May 2 + 4.

Guest conductor Lionel Bringuier and pianist Lise de la Salle join the ASO for Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 4 (an ASO premiere), Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G and Stravinsky’s The Firebird Suite (1919).


DA DA DA DUUUHHHH! May 9 + 11.

Spano and the ASO perform Richard Prior’s … of shadow and light …, James Oliverio’s Double Timpani Concerto and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, with the ASO’s Mark Yancich and brother Paul Yancich on timpani.


Piano Sonata No. 15 in D Major, Opus 28, Pastoral; Piano Sonata No. 10 in G Major, Opus 14, No. 2; Piano Sonata No. 3 in C Major, Opus 2, No. 3; and Piano Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Opus 111.


Michaud’s Le boeuf sur le toit, Canteloube’s Songs of the Auvergne, Debussy’s Préludes (an ASO debut) and La Mer. Runnicles conducts, with Kim-Lillian Strebel as the soprano soloist.

BEETHOVEN + BERNSTEIN: PART 2. May 30 + June 1-2.

Runnicles conducts Beethoven’s Lenore Overture No. 3 and Symphony No. 6, Pastoral, and Bernstein’s Halil (an ASO debut). The ASO’s Christina Smith solos on the flute.



Christine Goerke

Christine Goerke


Beethoven’s only opera follows Leonore, who disguises herself as a prison guard named Fidelio, to rescue her husband, Florestan, from death in a political prison. Performed by the ASO, the ASO Chorus and seven soloists — baritone Nmon Ford singing Pizarro, soprano Christine Goerke singing Leonore, tenor Joseph Kaiser singing Florestan, tenor Miles Mykkanen as Jacquino, bass Morris Robinson as Don Fernando, soprano Laura Tatulescu as Marzelline and bass Arthur Woodley as Rocco.


BEST BETS | Feb. 1-7, 2018

This week we say goodbye to the Outfit’s great “Lady Day,” the Alliance’s “Native Guard” and Atlanta Symphony cellist Christopher Rex. New choices feature gods (7 Stages’ audacious “Bacchae” retelling) and a rabbit (Synchronicity’s “Edward Tulane”). Pictured above: Cara Mantella and Joe Sykes in “Angels in America.” Photo by Casey Gardner.

This week we say goodbye to the Outfit’s great “Lady Day,” the Alliance’s “Native Guard” and Atlanta Symphony cellist Christopher Rex. New choices feature gods (7 Stages’ audacious “Bacchae” retelling) and a rabbit (Synchronicity’s “Edward Tulane”). Pictured above: Cara Mantella and Joe Sykes in “Angels in America.” Photo by Casey Gardner.




** Angels in America, Parts 1 and 2. THROUGH FEB. 17, IN REPERTORY.

See both, on different days or the same one, at Actor‘s Express. Sex, religion, politics and history collide in Tony Kushner’s sweeping, time-traveling saga set at the dawn of the AIDS epidemic. Part 1 is titled Millennium Approaches; Part 2 is Perestroika. Kushner’s achievement, a 20th-century theatrical landmark, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and four 1993 Tony awards. The Express cast: Robert Bryan Davis as Roy Cohn and Grant Chapman as Prior Walter, with Carolyn CookThandiwe DeShazorLouis GreggoryCara MantellaParris Sarter and Joe Sykes, several of whom play multiple roles. Your time investment will be mostly rewarded.

$22-$40. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. King Plow Arts Center, 887 West Marietta St. NW. Millennium Approachesdetails, tickets HEREPerestroika details, tickets HERE. Or call 404.607.7469. 


Amari Cheatom, Brittany Inge. Photo: Greg Mooney

Amari Cheatom, Brittany Inge. Photo: Greg Mooney

** The Ballad of Klook and Vinette. THROUGH FEB. 18.

American premiere. Horizon Theatrebegins its 2018 season with a contemporary love story that has a soulful jazz score. Klook is a drifter who’s tired of drifting; Vinette is on the run but doesn’t know why. Together, they take a stab at love. Amari Cheatom (the film Django Unchained and a Freddie Hendricks Youth Ensemble of Atlanta alum) is Klook. Brittany Inge (Horizon’s Blackberry Daze) is Vinette. The script is by London-based playwright Ché Walker, who directs. 

$23 and up, plus fees. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 3 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. No show this Sunday (Super Bowl Sunday). 1083 Austin Ave. at Euclid Avenue. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.584.7450.

Terry Burrell. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Terry Burrell. Photo: Chris Bartelski

** Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill. CLOSES SUNDAY.

Highly recommended. At Theatrical Outfit. If any show should run longer, this one is it. Singer/actor Terry Burrell shimmers in this bruising bio of jazz singer Billie Holiday, performing months before her death at age 44. It’s Philadelphia, 1959. The evening, both intimate and epic, includes stories about Lady Day’s down-and-out life and a song list that includes “God Bless the Child,” “Strange Fruit,” “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” and about a dozen more.

Burrell’s considerable credits include Broadway (Dreamgirls, Thoroughly Modern Millie)Lady Day off-Broadway; and Ethel, among others, at the Alliance Theatre. Look for her next in the Alliance’s Hospice + Pointing at the Moon, opening March 23. 

$18-$51. 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Balzer Theater at Herren’s, 84 Luckie St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.528.1500. Discount tickets at


Brad Brinkley. Photo: Chris Bartelski

Brad Brinkley. Photo: Chris Bartelski

** Maytag Virgin. THROUGH FEB. 11.

Regional premiere at Aurora TheatreAudrey Cefaly’s dramatic comedy follows an Alabama schoolteacher (Courtney Patterson) and her new neighbor (Brad Brinkley) in the year following her husband’s unexpected death. DC Theatre Scene called it “a witty and earnest meditation on how people connect even when they feel they’re not ready.” Melissa Foulger, an Actor’s Express regular and a name you should know, directs.

$20-$55. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. 128 E. Pike St., Lawrenceville. Free, covered, attached parking in city deck at 153 E. Crogan St. Details, tickets HERE or at 678.226.6222. Discount tickets at


Neal A. Ghant. Photo: Greg Mooney

Neal A. Ghant. Photo: Greg Mooney

Native Guard. CLOSES SUNDAY.

 Alliance Theatre at the Atlanta History Center. A reprise of the 2014 staging based on poet Natasha Trethewey’s Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, which juxtaposes her life as a mixed-race child with the lives of the Native Guard — black soldiers fighting for the Union in the Civil War. The twist this time: It’s performed near the History Center’s Civil War exhibition.

The entire cast returns: Neal A. Ghant as the Native Guard, January LaVoy as the Poet, vocalist Nicole Banks Long and composer/music director Tyrone Jackson. Recommended for age 12 and up.

$20-$47; $10 teens. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday; 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 + 7:30 p.m. Sunday. 130 West Paces Ferry Road NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.



Opening this week


** The Followers; A Retelling of the Bacchae. OPENS SATURDAY.

 At 7 Stages the 38-year-old Little Five Points company looks to ancient Greece for its first production of 2018. Euripides’ The Bacchae delves into opposite sides of human nature: the rational, civilized side represented by the king of Thebes (Lowrey Brown) and the instinctive side represented by Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy (Israel’s Ofir Nahari). This world premiere telling comes from Margaret Baldwin, an Atlanta playwright of note, and uses opera, dance, puppetry and physical theater to tell its story of blind faith, abuse of power and vengeance. Michael Haverty directs. Klimchak, who builds and plays unusual instruments, provides original music, with musical direction by Bryan Mercer, and Nahari choreographing. In the Back Stage Black Box.

$15-$25 (Feb. 1 preview is $15). Through Feb. 25. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday + Saturday; 5 p.m. Sunday. Also at 8 p.m. Feb. 5. 1105 Euclid Ave. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.523.7647.

Justin Walker. Photo: Jerry Siegel

Justin Walker. Photo: Jerry Siegel

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. OPENS FRIDAY.

At Synchronicity Theatre. Edward Tulane is an expensive toy rabbit made of china. He’s loved by a little girl but has no interest in anyone but himself. When he’s accidentally thrown overboard while at sea, his miraculous journey begins. This family-friendly adaptation is based on Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo’s 2006 novel. The cast: Josh Brook, Jimmica Collins, Caitlin Hargraves and Justin Walker. Mira Hirsch directs. Every Friday is PJs & Play. Kids in pajamas get complimentary milk and cookies.

$15-$22. Through Feb. 25. 7 p.m. Friday; 1 + 4 p.m. Saturday; 2 + 5 p.m. Sunday. One Peachtree Pointe, 1545 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636. 


Terrance Smith (from left), Tiffany Morgan, Rachel Wansker, Donald McNamus. Photo: Tyler Ogburn

Terrance Smith (from left), Tiffany Morgan, Rachel Wansker, Donald McNamus. Photo: Tyler Ogburn

The Mystery of Love & Sex. OPENS TONIGHT.  

At Out Front Theatre Company. London-born playwright Bathsheba “Bash” Doran’s four-character drama is an unexpected love story about where souls meet and the consequences of growing up. Charlotte and Jonny have been best friends since age 9. She’s Jewish, he’s Christian; he’s black, she’s white. Their differences intensify their connection until sexual desire complicates everything.

The play premiered in 2014 at NYC’s Lincoln Center (“written with compassion and wry wisdom,” said The New York Times) and has played Chicago and Los Angeles. Doran also has written for TV (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Masters of Sex,” “Smash”). Working Title Playwrights‘ Amber Bradshaw directs a cast comprising Donald McNamusTiffany Morgan, Terrance Smith and Rachel Wansker. The piece contains nudity. 

$20 + $25. Through Feb. 18. 999 Brady Ave. in West Midtown. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.448.2755.

This weekend only

Christopher Rex

Christopher Rex

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. THURSDAY + SATURDAY.

Join music director Robert Spano and guest pianist Jorge Federico Osorio for an all-Beethoven concert, featuring the German master’s Symphony No. 1, Piano Concerto No. 2 and Piano Concerto No. 3. Includes a Christopher Rex Farewell Recital at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, free for anyone with a ticket for either night. Rex retires this weekend, after spending the past 39 years as the ASO’s leading cellist. He’ll play Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 5 in D Major and Schubert’s Piano Trio No. 2 in E Flat (2nd movement).

$22-$102. 8 nightly. Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Still running

Picnic. THROUGH FEB. 18.

At Stage Door PlayersWilliam Inge’s 1953 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama argues that youth is a gift to be savored, not squandered. When Labor Day weekend arrives in the Kansas backyards of two middle-aged widows, so does a vital young man who upsets the social order. The cast: Blake BurgessKara Cantrell, Larry Davis and Shelby Folks. Tess Malis Kincaid directs.

$33. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Also at 8 p.m. Feb. 15. 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Details, tickets HERE or at 770.396.1726.


Rainforest Adventures. THROUGH MARCH 4.

Return to the Amazonian jungle with the Center for Puppetry Arts. Brazilian music accompanies this communion with 30-plus exotic plants and animals, including howler monkeys, harpy eagles and pink river dolphins. Performed in Czech Black style by puppeteers Brian Harrison, Jake Krakovsky, Emily MarshTim Sweeney and Anna Claire Walker. For ages 4 and up.

$19.50 non-members; $9.75 members. 10 + 11 a.m. Tuesday-Friday; 11 a.m. + 1 p.m. Saturday; and 1 + 3 p.m. Sunday.

1404 Spring St. NW. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.873.3391.


Next week

Roberto Abbado

Roberto Abbado

Mozart’s “Requiem.”  FEB. 8 + 10-11.

Italian-born guest conductor Roberto Abbado leads the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Mozart’s 1791 masterpiece, written as he was dying. The orchestra and chorus are joined by soloists Jessica Rivera (soprano), Magdalena Wór (mezzo-soprano), William Burden (tenor) and Tom McNichols (bass). Also scheduled: Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1, with guest artist Jorge Federico Osorio, who has been spending a lot of time in Atlanta lately.

$32-$108. 8 p.m. Thursday + Saturday; 3 p.m. Sunday (largely sold out but tickets remain). Symphony Hall, Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree St. NE. Details, tickets HERE or at 404.733.5000.

Coming up


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. FEB. 14-18.

This brilliant, one-of-a-kind 32-member company makes its annual Atlanta visit with a program that looks to the past — specifically 1960, the 1980s and  2004 — to entertain, provoke and inform the future. The lineup includes six performances and 13 pieces (not all seen at every performance). Among them, artistic director Robert Battle’s MassShelter by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar;Twyla Tharp’s The Golden Section; Talley Beatty’s Stack-Up; and the Alvin Ailey creation Revelations (at all performances).  $22-$86. 8 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 2 + 8 p.m. Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. NE. Tickets HERE or at 855.285.8499.